Hiss Golden Messenger songs create feelings to which devoted listeners attach their own meanings and memories with each repeated spin. Throughout Terms of Surrender, those feelings range from fearful to celebratory. But perhaps the title track—with its refrain of "I'm gonna give it/ but don't make me say it/ It's one thing to bend it, my love, but another to break it"—best summarizes the nature of Taylor's work as a musician, father and spouse, and cultural communicator on this album.
He explains, "Terms of Surrender is part apology, part plea, part love letter. It's about how much of the
most important parts of ourselves we can sacrifice and still feel like we're living the life that we
thought we wanted.".